- 1h 18min
With ABOUT ENDLESSNESS, Roy Andersson adds to his cinematic oeuvre with a reflection on human life in all its beauty and cruelty, its splendour and banality.With ABOUT ENDLESSNESS, Roy Andersson adds to his cinematic oeuvre with a reflection on human life in all its beauty and cruelty, its splendour and banality.With ABOUT ENDLESSNESS, Roy Andersson adds to his cinematic oeuvre with a reflection on human life in all its beauty and cruelty, its splendour and banality.
This is what made his Living trilogy iconic; About Endlessness (org. Title Om det oändliga) shakes things up a bit by having a clear leading lady but is still very much an Andersson movie. Like all his films, it seems so hopeless on the surface, yet we cannot escape the feeling that Andersson genuinely hopes that things will get better (suffering is simply part of the wonder). Another oxymoron is the deliberate "fakeness" of the visuals (the movie willfully looks like a stage play at points) versus how "real" the movie's being. As usual, the scenes range from simple to large and intricate - with entire lives going on in the background, usually indifferent to the main subject. The colors are as pale and sickly as the characters.
Now, I've been a huge fan of Andersson since I started the Living trilogy with A Pigeon Sat on a Branch last year (I'd say he's up there with the Bergmans and Östlunds of our sausage-shaped country). I then moved on to Songs from the Second Floor and eventually finished the journey with You the Living not too long ago. I adored all three and maybe it helped that I let each film sit with me for a while. I was ready to put About Endlessness on my 2019 list.
But since I checked on Andersson's catalog rather recently, and had seen his unmistakable style done in two more pictures before then, I'm sad to say a lot of what I saw in About Endlessness felt a little been-done. I've seen these maudlin Swedes in these hilariously sad situations before. I still enjoyed the cringe comedy, visuals, music, and the delightfully old-school Swedishness of it all, but it is no longer as extraordinary.
What sets this one apart from the Living trilogy, however, is the presence of a narrator who identifies reoccurring themes in all the vignettes, such as loneliness, love (or lack thereof), and faith. I have read that she is supposed to be an angel, and she seems to be experiencing a series of moments, similarly to how Dr. Manhattan perceives his own memories; we see past and present events in non-chronological order.
Strangely, this does not necessarily tie all the sketches together in an especially neat way. The movie may have felt more fully-realized if the different characters we meet ran into each other in sketches focusing on someone else. You the Living used this "hyperlink" method of tying together vignettes but my favorite instance of Andersson doing this must be the final shot of Songs from the Second Floor, which haunts me to this day. One might suspect that the vignettes we see here are scenes that Andersson deleted from his previous films since they didn't fit together with the rest anyways, but Andersson is hardly so thoughtless.
I will say this, though: this was an inordinately pleasant screening. The local multiplex didn't play it, of course (factory-made stuff like Charlie's Angels and The Lion King is clearly more important than art), so I had to go to the arthouse cinema/cultural center, where you can have a burger and alcohol before the film and whatnot; my first time going there since the Die Hard anniversary screening one year ago (I'll be there with someone special for their celebration of Akira next week, as well). I was the only attendee under 60.
- Nov 21, 2019